Mail Pattern Building
Boxed in and out by Amazon, Cease-Fire Extended
Let's begin today in the small, rural town of Bemidji, Minnesota, a place that seems a world away for most city slickers. But it turns out we all have something in common. Boxes. More specifically, Amazon boxes. But the pile of Amazon boxes is a bigger problem in many out of the way places that depend on the USPS to handle last mile delivery. The fire marshall in Bemidji recently visited the local post office "because the Amazon packages were stacked precariously high." Locals have seen their other mail delayed by days. And thanks to a package deal Amazon swung with the postal service, the system is breaking down. At least the mail carriers are... "Dennis Nelson, a veteran mail carrier, said he got so frustrated watching multiple co-workers 'breaking down and crying' that he staged a symbolic strike earlier this month outside the post office where he has worked for more than 20 years. 'I have to do something,' Nelson said. 'It feels like we should be wearing shirts that say ‘USPS: Brought to you by Amazon.com.'" WaPo (Gift Article): A rural post office was told to prioritize Amazon packages. Chaos ensued.
+ While small town post offices are still contending with Amazon packages, in more and more places, Amazon is handling the shipping on their own. There are vans crawling through my neighborhood day and night. Apparently this is not unique. Let's check the box score. "Amazon will deliver more packages in 2023 than anyone." Amazon Takes the Delivery Throne From UPS and FedEx. (In the business, we call this delivering a smackdown.)
+ "Amazon is best known as a retailer, but going into 2024, Amazon is better understood as a massive logistics operation with a vestigial retail operation strapped to its back. Much in the way that it sells cloud computing to other firms with AWS, Amazon rents out its physical logistical capacity — more than 500 million square feet of warehouse space as of 2021, more than a million employees in the United States, and globe-spanning systems to streamline supply chains — to third-party sellers, who account for a majority of products purchased on Amazon." John Herrman in NY Mag: What If Amazon Delivered Everything You Order From Anywhere? The more they ship, the more efficient they get, and the more you'll use them. Then they've really got the whole package. This question becomes less hypothetical every day.
Brother in Arms
"The phone call came early that morning from a friend from her home town—Springfield, Oregon. He stammered something about having bad news and hung up. Soon afterward, another friend called and told her that there had been a shooting at Thurston High School, where Kristin had gone and where her brother, Kip, was in ninth grade. 'Is Kip hurt?' she asked. She didn’t get an answer. Then a third friend phoned and blurted out what nobody else wanted to say: Kip was the one who had opened fire at Thurston. As Kristin would later learn, he had killed two students and injured another twenty-five." Jennifer Gonnerman in The New Yorker with a very interesting look at What Happens to a School Shooter’s Sister? "There’s this tremendous need to be able to put us in a box with a label that’s different than the one you put on your family. Because if we’re similar that means this could have been you, too. And I think that thought makes people very uncomfortable."
"Dynamo inmates have keys to their housing unit and yard, which they can access at any hour and are responsible for cutting the grass. They have open movement to food service, jobs, library, recreation and canteen. They have access to a day room with a soft sofa, large television, washer and dryer, refrigerator, ice machine, plants and an aquarium to help alleviate stress. Most unusual of all, inmates have their own cells, which they can paint the color of their choosing — and are expected to clean." What happened when a group of prison longtimers were given a little more freedom and control over their lives? "Zero fights and no drugs, overdoses or violations." These Missouri inmates run their own corner of the prison. The warden is OK with that.
Surviving Crunch Time
"Voices — and crunching — are amplified when people are using headsets, which are often worn by gamers, many of whom spend hours at a time playing multiplayer video games. So the chip brand Doritos created Doritos Silent, a crunch cancellation software that removes the sound of chewing from voice chat, Zoom or any call that uses headphones. But it was really created for gamers." WaPo (Gift Article): The sound of crunching chips is annoying. Doritos has made a silencer. (Sadly, this doesn't work for the person sitting next to you on the couch.)
Extension Struck a Chord: The Israel-Hamas cease-fire has been extended and more hostages have been released. Some of the hostages are now sharing their experiences. The Biden administration is pressuring Israel to be more surgical in its military efforts when the front moves to South. Here's the latest from CNN, BBC, and NBC. Some of the hostages are just learning about family members who were slain. Teenage siblings freed from Hamas captivity, only to learn their mother had been murdered. Meanwhile, a ridiculous GOP bill to expel Palestinians from the US has been rebuked in an effort led by two Jewish members of Congress.
+ Alternative Facts: "In Weirton, W.Va., in the heart of coal country, a company started by MIT scientists plans to build a plant that will produce a metal and alloy critical for clean energy, fuel cells and cleaner steel." That's just one example of an excellent trend. NYT (Gift Article): Former Coal Towns Get Money for Clean-Energy Factories. (The people whose labor has powered America should be first in line for better, safer jobs.)
+ Rat Chance: "The workers were pulled out through an escape pipe on Tuesday night after the last stretch of rubble had been manually drilled by a specialist team of 'rat-hole mining' experts who had been flown in to help after the mechanical drill broke down." All 41 Indian laborers rescued from collapsed tunnel.
+ Rosalynn Carter Tribute: The current and former presidents (including Jimmy Carter) and first ladies are attending a memorial tribute to Rosalynn Carter.
+ Manufactors: "Like many of its competitors, Apple has relied on China for assembling its products for years. But political and economic factors have forced the company, as well as the broader tech sector, to rethink that approach by seeking partners from across the region." Rest of World: Inside Foxconn’s struggle to make iPhones in India.
+ New Koch: "Americans for Prosperity, the political arm of the powerful Koch network, formally endorsed Nikki Haley’s presidential campaign on Tuesday, promising to commit its nationwide army of activists — and virtually unlimited funds — to helping Haley defeat former President Donald Trump in the GOP primary contest."
+ A Full Remodel: "A Spanish modeling agency said it's created the country's first AI influencer, who can earn up to 10,000 euros, or $11,000, a month as a model."
+ Aretha Bequeatha: "A judge overseeing the estate of Aretha Franklin awarded real estate to the late star’s sons, citing a handwritten will from 2014 that was found between couch cushions." (No word on who gets the AppleTV remote found there.)
Bottom of the News
"In Sweden, casual chattiness is seen as needless, since conversation is used for exchanging real, meaningful information." Why Swedes don’t speak to strangers. (I'll have more to say on this once I've moved to Sweden.)
+ "Hogan is among a new cohort of dollhouse devotees who are shaking up how grown-ups indulge in the classic children’s hobby. Instead of outfitting old-timey homes with old-timey décor, they are assembling contemporary miniature abodes packed with tiny versions of trendy trappings sold in stores such as IKEA and West Elm." WSJ(Gift Article): They’re Spending Thousands Decorating Homes No One Will Ever Go Inside.